Thursday, February 09, 2017

Phoebe Princess Consuela Banana Hammock Buffay

When you get a pet, you’re basically signing up to willingly have your heart broken. Until they develop some sort of serum that extends the longevity of animal lives (get on it, science), we know that, in all likelihood, we’re going to outlive the little life we’re suddenly in charge of. Sometimes they pass naturally, hopefully at a ripe, old age after living a long, healthy life. Sometimes, unfortunately, you have to make the decision for them.

We took Phoebe to the vet last week and learned that she wasn’t doing well. She had several underlying issues that pointed to even more serious issues. There were options. More medical tests. Long term medications and vet visits. But we knew they’d be torture for Phoebe. We went home to think it over and decided that, when we really thought about it, her quality of life wasn’t so good. And adding additional medical tests and medication? Wasn’t going to make it any better. It would only delay the inevitable, and there would always be a chance that we’d wait too long and would need to make the decision suddenly. And in that case, she’d most likely be in even greater pain than she already was.

It wasn’t an easy decision. But it was what was best for her, even if it broke our hearts. Today we took her to the vet for the last time. I’ve been struggling with this decision, obviously, and have only just come to terms with it, though that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped crying about it. This week has really just been an exercise in how many tears the human body can produce. I assume I’ll stop crying at some point. A person can’t cry forever. (RIGHT???)

I adopted Phoebe 12 years ago, funnily enough from the animal shelter I’d later end up working at. I decided I wanted a cat, found the most terrified, saddest looking cat I could on PetFinder, and adopted her. Adopting such a terrified cat as a first-time cat owner was not my brightest moment, but we made it work. After she hid for a week and spent a few months slowly peeing on all of my possessions. Still. We found our stride.

Phoebe was with me through five moves. She was there when I met Joe, when we moved in together, when we got married. She was there when we (to her consternation) brought home Max, and later Mara. She was a sassmouth, who’d respond with a meow whenever you’d say, “kitty?” She hid from most people and was never very social, so whenever she’d crawl on my lap, I’d sit as still as possible, hardly breathing, so I wouldn’t startle her away. Last night, for the first time in a while, she came downstairs and crawled on my lap. Just for a few minutes. I think she was saying goodbye.

I’d had other pets as a kid, but she was my first pet. The first pet that I was directly responsible for. Though I feel like I failed her in not noticing earlier that she was struggling, I’m glad I was able to do right by her in the end. She’s not suffering anymore. And even though she did, in fact, break my heart, I also know she’ll live there forever. Thankfully, there’s some peace in that.


Monday, November 28, 2016

I wish I could rewrite the ending on this one

I have most Mondays off, so on nice days, I go hiking at one of the many parks in the area. Last Monday, I spent most of the morning and early afternoon hiking and, on the way home, tired and muddy, I drove through Lincoln Park, a small residential park with a few trees and a pond. As I drove by the pond, I noticed a woman in the middle of the road. In front of her was a duck, struggling to drag itself out of the street.

I pulled over and got out of my car, and at that point, the duck, a mallard, had managed to get himself into the grass. He seemed comfortable enough, though wasn't moving to walk or fly away, despite his wariness of the humans standing around him. A man who'd also been driving by told the woman and I that he had called animal control. He drove away and the woman, who had a car full of kids, soon followed him, thanking me as she left. 

“I guess this is my problem now,” I thought, and went back to my car. After texting some friends and Joe, I came to the conclusion that I’d wait for animal control but try to find another option in the meantime. I called Brukner Nature Center, which does wildlife rehab, and the woman I spoke to told me that, if I was able to capture the duck, I could bring it to them. Knowing what animal control would do should I leave the duck there, I decided to at least try to capture him. How hard could it be to capture an injured duck? 

SPOILER ALERT, it turns out it’s super hard! 

Joe left work early (which is ridiculous and also why I love him) and stopped to get a box and some towels. We tried to capture the duck once he got there, but it FREAKED OUT and also all the other pond ducks and geese came over to see what we were doing and swarmed around us like a bunch of duck-zombies, hungry for brains bread, and in the midst of all the confusion, our duck got into the water. 

So. At that point, we could have given up. But instead we went to Meijer and bought a net. 

We rushed back to the pond and saw the duck, which we (stupidly) named Lincoln, sitting on the little plank-ramp that the ducks use to climb out of the water. He wasn’t able to climb all the way out, so he was just sitting at the end. And unfortunately, every time we got near him with the net, he swam away to the middle of the pond where we couldn’t get to him. 

We decided to leave for the night, since it was getting dark, and try again in the morning. We tried for an hour the next morning, but were still unsuccessful. I came to visit Lincoln during lunch and again after work, each time feeling more and more useless. When I visited him that night, I was at first hopeful that he had gotten out of the water, as all of the ducks were huddled together in the grass next to the pond. But as I walked the path, I soon found him, still in the water, on the complete opposite end of the pond. He was still swimming away every time I got near him, but not quite as quickly. And he was all alone. 

I went home and cried to Joe, but we decided that, at that point, we should probably just let it go. He didn’t want to be caught. I’d spoken with someone from the parks department earlier that day, who told me that it’s extremely difficult to catch a duck that doesn’t want to be caught, but that they would try to catch him the following day. It made me feel a bit better, but I still felt like I’d failed in some way. If only we’d been able to get him before he got back in the water. If only. 

The next day, I went to work as usual, hoping that the parks department would have better luck than I did. Joe texted me around lunchtime, saying he wanted to try one more time to catch Lincoln. It turned out that my kind-hearted husband, also feeling badly about the duck, had gone by to see whether the parks department had been there. They hadn’t, and Lincoln was still in the water. He wasn’t swimming away as he had been the day before, so Joe thought maybe we could catch him this time. 

All of our duck-catching gear (which at that point consisted of two towels, a box, work gloves, a net, some bread, and a dog crate) was still in the back of my car (because you never know when you might need to catch a duck), so we were all set. We got to Lincoln Park and formulated a plan. I was cautiously optimistic but trying to tamp it down, as my optimism had gotten us nowhere so far. 

On our first attempt, Lincoln swam away again. He slowly made his way to the other side of the pond. I decided to stay on one side while Joe walked to where we thought Lincoln was headed. He crept up to the edge of the pond, slowly dipped the net in front of Lincoln, and Lincoln swam right into it. Joe scooped him out of the pond, easy as anything, and made his way toward me. 

Guys, I wish I could adequately describe the jubilation I felt as I watched Joe walk toward me, Lincoln safely in the net. I dropped the bread I was holding and sprinted to the car to get the crate ready. Joe deposited Lincoln into the crate and we made our way to Brukner, hoping that we’d gotten him in time. 



Brukner is about a 40 minute drive from where we live, and we spent the entire trip alternating between excited chattering and sitting in happy silence. Every now and then I’d break the silence with, “REMEMBER THAT TIME YOU CAUGHT A DUCK?” and we’d start laughing hysterically. 

(We also later realized that there was a guy fishing in the pond the entire time we were trying to catch Lincoln, someone who watched us scoop him into a net, put him in a dog crate, and then quickly drive away. I hope we gave him a fun story to tell on Thanksgiving.) 

Once we arrived at Brukner, we were able to transfer Lincoln into their care easily. I filled out a form, they gave us a patient card so we could call and check on him, and we were done. We both went back to work, feeling happy that we’d tried our best to help. 



I wish I could say that this story has a happy ending. 


Brukner was closed on Thursday and Friday, and when we called on Saturday, they told us that Lincoln had died. They did everything they could, even taking him to an outside vet, but, after all that, his injuries had just been too extensive. 

I wish I had something deep to say here. But I don't. It just sucks. 

Even now, a few days later, I still find myself tearing up about that duck. I spent five days fixated on him, thinking about how to catch him or what was happening to him at Brukner. Our giddy happiness at having caught him turned into an impressive display of grief (we cried a lot and then impulse-bought a brass duck statue that we found at a vintage-y store) for an animal we’d known less than a week. 



If I’m honest, lately I’ve been feeling frustrated about the many terrible things happening in the world, things that I cannot change, or situations that have no easy fix. And here was a situation in which I could actually do something. There was a hurt animal in front of me. I knew exactly how to help. Someone else gave me the knowledge, I had all the tools. And I still failed. 

I keep wondering how my week would have gone had I driven home a different way. Or if I had just ignored the situation and driven by instead. I probably would have worried about the duck for a bit, then placated myself with thoughts that someone else probably dealt with it. Maybe that’s how the people I met last Monday are feeling. Several people happened upon Lincoln while I was waiting for Joe to get there with supplies, and each one seemed supremely relieved when they realized I’d taken ownership over this sad little duck. I'm a bit jealous of them, really. They can at least tell themselves that the duck was probably fine, since someone was there helping. I wish I could have done more.

Still, as disappointed as I am, I just keep reminding myself that there are ways to help. 

Brukner Nature Center, and other organizations like it, can always use donations, whether the donations are monetary or items like animal food or blankets. If you’re able to give, they’ll put these items to good use, helping animals like Lincoln, or educating children and adults in the community on how to safely interact with wildlife, both healthy and injured.  

I know that, because of organizations like Brukner, many other animals are successfully rehabilitated. I’m so thankful that a place like this exists in our community and that, when faced with this situation, I had an expert (other than Google) to talk to. I wish there had been a better outcome for Lincoln, but we happily made a donation so that the experts at Brukner can continue helping animals like him. It doesn’t feel like much, not really. But sometimes it has to be enough. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.

Apparently, I only write here every six months or so. Remember when I used to write here multiple times a day? Probably not. I'm not even sure if anyone will even see this. Blogs have changed so much. No one has the attention span for them anymore. Everything is Twittered and Tumblred and FOR GOD'S SAKE Snapchatted, which I don't entirely understand because I'm an Old now. When did that happen?

I'm constantly surprised by the passing of time. Which is ridiculous. It's been passing my whole life but I'm still shocked by it. When someone says something happened in 2007, I think, "oh, that was just a couple of years ago," but no. It wasn't. It was eight years ago, actually. Eight years. I could, like, have had an eight-year-old in that time. I mean, I'm glad I don't. Eight-year-olds are little sassmouths. There are already two sassmouths living in this house, we don't need another one.

Anyway. I used to post here so much. I do miss it. The blogging community kind of fell apart in the last few years (and, yes, I realize that by saying "few" years, I could possibly be talking about the last eight years ago...WHO KNOWS). But I also think I used to post here more often because I wasn't happy at work and, probably (who remembers) in other ways. If posting less means I'm happier, then according to my archives, I've been getting steadily happier over the last ten years. I posted over 400 times in 2004 (Jesus, lady, no one needs to hear that many of your thoughts) and a whopping 7 times last year.

Do you guys ever read your archives? I find myself getting lost in mine sometimes, on my most past-obsessed days, trying to figure out where that girl went. Is she still there, somewhere? As we grow and get older, do we always encompass who we once were? It makes me a little sad to think she might be gone completely, but I can't be that sad, because I really have nothing to be unhappy about these days.

I really, really like my job, you guys. It feels weird to say that because it's never been true before. For a long time, two years exactly, I was pretty miserable at work, which made me not want to write anything because misery is exhausting. Then I got a job that I really like and things got really busy and I never wrote anything because work left me exhausted, but in a good way. Because I get to, like, use my brain and stuff. I even get to write sometimes.

I guess what I'm saying is, I don't really have an excuse for not writing here more often. Not a good one, anyway. I find plenty of time to watch TV, and too much of it. Which I suppose means the girl I was talking about up there isn't really gone at all so WHEW BULLET DODGED.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Day 5

I got homework at work today, which is fun because I don’t get homework anymore AND it involves very little effort on my end, which is my favorite kind of task.

My homework was to take this Myers Briggs personality test, something I’ve taken multiple times in the past, but took it again JUST IN CASE my personality had slightly shifted in the past couple of years. Or in case another personality had taken over, slowly and subtly, and I didn’t even notice. I was interested to see which Harry Potter character my new personality is.

As suspected, I am still Draco Malfoy, though percentage-wise I’m almost tied with Remus Lupin. I’ve taken a million and a half of these tests (thanks, Buzzfeed!) and am always either INTJ or INFJ. I like to say I’m an INTJ most of the time because fictional INTJs are always evil. Mr. Burns. Walter White. Tywin Lannister. Louise Belcher.

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Yep.
INFJs are much nicer. Lisa Simpson. Kermit. Elizabeth Bennett. JK ROWLING. They’re also the rarest of personality types, unless you bring gender into the equation, in which case female INTJs are the rarest, tied with female ENTJ and male INFJ (going by my really extensive research that was basically Googling “rarest myers briggs types by gender”). SCIENCE.

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GOB is an ESTP, apparently.

Why am I still talking about this? IDK BECAUSE I LOVE TALKING ABOUT MYSELF OK? Welcome to blogging.

Anyway. I think being tied between INTJ and INFJ means I get to pick whichever side I want. There are positives and negatives about both, but the INTJs have Mr. Darcy. So. I think you know who I’ll choose. Always.

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Suck it, Cumberbatch.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Day 4

Today I was singing in the shower, like you do, and, as is so often the case, my songs of choice hailed from the Joss Whedon oeuvre. I haven’t tested this theory officially but I’m pretty sure I could sing “Once More with Feeling” all the way through ALL BY MYSELF YES ALL THE PARTS ALL OF THEM.

I’m not really what one would call a “good singer,” but I do enjoy it, even if it’s just singing along to the radio or making up dumb songs to sing to my pets, or playing Rock Band a million years ago. Remember Rock Band? We have the entire set that sits in a closet in our house because it’s not fun to play just the two of us and we are hermit people who never invite anyone over to our house and the dogs haven’t learned how to play guitar OR drums yet. Slackers.

(Why doesn’t anyone play Rock Band anymore? We played it so much a few years ago and then just stopped but I don’t think anything took its place. Anyway. Whatever.)

I was in choir in school and I loved it, especially the time in fifth grade when we went to McDonald’s in our fancy robes to sing Christmas carols and I got to stand on a table and it was AWESOME until I went to the bathroom to take my robe off and one of the snaps on it got stuck in my hair and I for real thought I was going to have to shave my head to get it out. I didn’t, though. GOOD STORY.

The only thing I ever really miss about church is all the singing in unison. Which is weird because whenever I was the acolyte, I never wanted to sing along to the songs, I think because I was sitting in the front of the church, where everyone could see me, and the last thing I wanted was to be seen PARTICIPATING EARNESTLY in something. PERISH THE THOUGHT. 

(Did your church have children as acolytes? I don’t know if it’s just a Lutheran thing. I think maybe it’s like being a choirboy in the Catholic church. Basically, I lit the candles at the front of the church when the service started, staring at the flame as I carried it, hoping and praying (appropriate) that it wouldn’t go out because THEN WHAT WOULD I DO? Would I have to go to the back and start over? What would people think? What would GOD think? Anyway, I also was in charge of holding the dish where people put empty glasses when they were finished taking communion. It was really a lot of responsibility for a 12-year-old.)

If I wasn’t acolyting, though, I really enjoyed the singing part of the services. Especially at Christmas, because I actually knew those songs, except for the weird extra verses of songs like Silent Night that no one on solemn Christmas episodes of TV shows ever sings so why do they even exist?

 A couple of years ago (um, ok, four years ago, yikes), I went to a Sound of Music sing-a-long at the movie theater and it was magical. A couple years before THAT, Joe and I went to a Dr. Horrible sing-a-long at ANOTHER movie theater and THAT WAS ALSO MAGICAL. I haven’t really seen anything else like that around here recently, other than a Frozen sing-a-long last year that I was afraid to go to because I thought I might get irrationally angry at any kids butchering the words. So. I guess what I’m saying is, I really need a non-church, non-solo, adult outlet for singing. MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SECULAR SING-A-LONGS.

Until then, I guess I’ll just dig out Rock Band. How hard is it to teach a dog to hold some drum sticks, do you think?

Monday, November 03, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Day 3

I doubt anyone noticed, because this blog has become a bit like speaking into the void (I’m not complaining, it’s kind of nice, like it was when I first started it and just rambled on and on like I was writing in my diary), but I forgot to post yesterday.

Well. No, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t forget. I knew perfectly well I needed to write something, I just...didn’t. There were two reasons for this:

1. I spent much of yesterday preparing for our annual volunteer appreciation banquet.

2. I spent all my time not preparing for the banquet watching many, many episodes of Gilmore Girls with Joe.

And you know what? NO REGRETS.

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I put pressure on myself a lot of the time for just SUPER dumb reasons. Like, I don’t even know, that I was five minutes late for work and now the day doesn’t count anymore? That’s a bad example. I can’t really be late because I can get there whenever I want. But we’re going with that right now because I can’t think of any other examples and it’s my blog and I do what I want.

My point is (and I do have one) that, even for something that means nothing to anyone but me, like National Blog Posting Month, I tend to be very hard on myself if I feel like I’m, I don’t know, “cheating.” So if I post a video instead of actual words or GOD FORBID don’t post one day, it negates anything else I’ve done for the month.

This is stupid, flawed logic and it’s something I hate about myself so I purposefully sabotaged myself early on in the month and now NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

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Anyway. Bye.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Day 1

Willow: Carpe diem. You told me that once.
Buffy: Fish of the day?
Willow: Not carp. Carpe. It means “seize the day.”


Hey, so remember last year when I quit my nice HR job to work part-time at an animal shelter? And how most of my family (and probably my friends) thought I had lost my mind? At the time, I knew it was the right decision, even if others in my life didn’t understand it. Still. I’m not going to pretend it was always easy. Money was tight, my schedule was erratic, and I had no idea if this part-time position would ever lead to anything more.

A few months ago, while working with potential adopters, I met someone at the perfect time. Don’t you love how that happens? I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental, the pure happenstance of meeting someone who passes along a lesson you really need to hear, or it’s something our TV-addled brains just put together for us, wanting to turn our lives into a story with a satisfying narrative. But I don’t care. It’s the greatest feeling, meeting someone who turns out to be the exact person you were supposed to talk to that day.

It was a busy day at work, like always. I had been meeting with people all day, was in fact outside in one of the yards introducing some dogs to each other (you know, normal stuff), when someone came to tell me another person was waiting. I went inside to meet him and, through the course of his interview, realized I was talking to one of the nicest people I’d ever met. Like Heather Anne Hogan nice. (Psst, that’s really nice.)

He was there to meet a few dogs, as his dog had died a few months prior. He wasn’t sure he was ready to adopt another dog and was, in fact, still going to a grief support group for the loss of his pet. We talked a bit about Oak Tree Corner then, and how so many people are uncomfortable talking about grief, or even the idea of grief, and how certainly there are people out there who just don’t understand how hard it can be to lose a pet.

He didn’t end up adopting a dog that day, but during our conversation, he asked me how I ended up working there. I explained that I’d been working in HR for a long time but wanted a change, to do something where I felt like I was making a difference in the world.

In all honesty, in the days and weeks before I met this man, I’d begun to wonder if I’d made a mistake leaving HR. It hadn’t really been so bad, had it? It was a nice enough job. The money was better. The hours were better. I’d been thinking, you know, that maybe I should go back. I felt like I wasn’t contributing enough to the household. I wasn’t making as much money as I had been. My hours, I’m sure, were hard on Joe, since I worked most weekends, and often late-ish on Saturdays and, once I got home, I was usually exhausted. Good exhausted, but still exhausted.

Still, I couldn’t imagine going back to HR. It felt like giving up every time I thought about it. And when I mentioned it to this man, this near-stranger I’d met twenty or so minutes before, he said, “Oh, god, no, never go back.” You see, he, too, had once worked in HR, for more years than I had, and he also hated it, so he left and started his own business and never looked back.

“Don’t do it,” he said, looking me right in the eye. “You’ll regret it.”

I don’t know why I accepted this advice. Unsolicited advice usually makes me go homicidal and, in fact, want to do the exact opposite of whatever I’d been told, because apparently I’m still a child. But I think I was able to take it because it was exactly what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it. It’s what I knew to be true, deep down, under all the fear and doubt.

A month later, I interviewed for the job I currently hold, a full-time position (at the same company) that I love. The money and the schedule are better, much more in line with my previous full-time position. The difference now is, I’m so much happier when I’m at work. The days are so busy. There’s so much to do. But I’m EXCITED to be there. I love going to work and there are days when I accidentally stay late because I’ve gotten so distracted by whatever I’m working on that I didn’t realize how much time had passed. AND EVERYONE IS SO NICE. Plus, you know, if I ever need a break, there are plenty of fluffy animals around to distract me.

I used to come home from work full of complaints about the day. It was exhausting, and I’m sure not super fun for Joe to listen to. Now I come home and can’t wait to talk about the wonderful people I work with and the animals I work for. So Joe is still sick of hearing me babble, just for different reasons.

I guess my point is follow your dreams or whatever? Even if you’re scared? I don’t know. I still feel like I’m faking my way through this whole “being an adult” thing most of the time, but I think I’m getting better at it. So there’s hope for anyone, I suppose.